Government names preferred candidate to be next Charity Commission chair

The government has named its preferred candidate to be the next Charity Commission chair.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has announced that financial services sector veteran Martin Thomas is the government’s preferred candidate as chair of the regulator.

He has more than 20 years experience in the insurance and financial sectors, including roles at the Bank of England, European Commission and the European Central Bank.

Thomas also holds several charitable roles including chair of NHS Resolution and Downside Up, a charity that supports families raising children with Down syndroime in Russia.

His other charity roles include chair of trustees at Forward Arts Foundation, which promotes poetry. He has also previously chaired Women for Women International UK, which supports women survivors of war.

The DCMS says he will step down from all his charitable board roles ahead of taking up the Charity Commission role.

As part of the appointment process Thomas will appear before MPs sitting on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee for pre-appointment scrutiny on December 9.

He is expected to take up his post on 26 December.

The selection of Thomas was made following advice from an advisory assessment panel that includes a DCMS official and a senior independent panel member, said the government.

Controversy around appointment

However, the selection process for the next chair has been marred by controversy in recent months following comments made in the summer by then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

Dowden suggested earlier this year that he wanted a chair that would pursue an ‘anti-woke’ agenda, after criticising charities that sought to tackle racism and historic links to slavery.

Dowden’s comments have already sparked a legal challenge by the Good Law Project around ministers seeking to manipulate the recruitment process for the independent role.

Last month, Labour called on the government to restart the Charity Commission selection process amid the concerns.

The last permanent chair of the regulator Baroness Stowell had been appointed despite objections from MPs, Labour also warned.

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